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The biggest source of plastic in our fresh water is laundry / Boing Boing



On average, you consume between 74,000 and 121,000 microscopic pieces of plastic each year. Probably much more. Where did it come from? According to new research by chemist Henry Mason at Penn State Behrend, 60 percent of the microplastics in our fresh water come from laundry, which makes its way from your washing machine through sewage treatment plants. From an American scientist:

As we clean our clothes, sheets and towels, the low filaments – commonly called microfibers – are torn off and washed. To better understand how microbeads and microfibers – which together make up microplastics – move through the Great Lakes and other freshwater systems, we wanted to understand if they were removed at wastewater treatment plants.

Following the collection and analysis of 90 samples taken from 17 different facilities in the United States, we confirmed that microplastics travel through wastewater treatment plants. On average, each wastewater treatment plant emits more than four million pieces of microplastics in US waterways: 60 percent fiber, 34 percent beads, and 6 percent films and foams. With 15,000 such facilities in continuous use in the United States, billions of microplastics find their way through our wastewater from our homes to the fresh water we rely on.

(via Scientific American)


image: Amy / Bunnyfrogs (Flickr)

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David Peskowitz

David Peskowitz is the co-editor of Boing Boing. On Instagram he is @pesco.

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